Intelligent Design Exposed

May 11, 2008

Plants that defy evolution: Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed)

Filed under: Intelligent Design,Scientific Vacuity,Uncategorized — idexposed @ 10:32 pm
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Some creationists consider the thorns on plants a problem for evolutionary theory. As I will show, this is based on a flawed understanding of evolutionary theory. But before I proceed, let me present the ‘argument‘ presented by Joseph Alden (uncle of  Gary McGuire)

The ‘argument’

Per your request, I am forwarding two more examples of plant species, which DEFY Darwinian evolution.

Examples :

1. The ” jimson weed “

Scientific name : Datura stramonium. This is a basic plant that grows wild, like most other weeds, namely in various parts of the United States. However, this weed is toxic. Its roots, stems and leaves all contain trace amount of natural poisons, including several alkaloid compounds. And yet, the MOST toxic area of the plant is found in the seed pod. This pod is about the size of a walnut and is covered with prickly thorns. Why all the thorns ? They serve NO practical purpose in the growth of the plant, at any stage in its life cycle. Therefore, why the need for all these thorns, located around a pod of toxic seeds ? Does the plant KNOW it is lethal ?
IMPOSSIBLE. It is a PLANT . It has no brain, no central nervous system, no subjective thought process, etc. Why then, would it have added this feature at some point in time, according to evolutionists, and established for itself all these thorns, that serve no purpose in the growth of the plant ? Its contents, by the way are NOT lethal to other plants; only animals. Therefore, could plants know that animals are looming about ? NO. Again, it is impossible ! They have no ability for any analytical thought process. They also have no sensory perception, like animals, so they would not know of potential danger from its toxic seeds. How and why would it possess this defense mechanism ?

Easy. The plant was CREATED by an intelligent designer from the start. Why you ask ? Simple. There IS a benefit to all those toxic seeds. They have been used for medicinal purposes for years. It’s just that, in mass quantity, if consumed by wild animals or humans, they could be potentially fatal. Thus, Creationists can easily explain, through basic scientific observation, the existence of the jimson weed. Evolutionists hate examples, like the jimson weed, because it DISPROVES the deductive reasoning used to justify evolution.

The scientific explanation

Let’s now see how science explains the origin and evolution of thorns and why there are plants which have thorns protecting the seed pods when the seeds themselves are toxic.

Co-evolution in plants

A good review paper of coevolution of defenses in plants is found in Rausher’s  Co-evolution and plant resistance to natural enemies published in Nature,  vol. 411, Jun 2001. We have to remember that there are a variety of potential selective pressures that may guide the evolution of these defenses, that this is a process of co-evolution and that this is a process involving a variety of predators and threats. As I will show the answer to the “paradox” can be easily found when taking into account these issues. Plants have evolved an arsenal of defenses which include resistance through chemical defensive (for instance alkaloids),  induced defenses, and morphological defenses (trichomes (hairs and thorns), cell walls, etc ). Chemical defenses are typically seen as having evolved from metabolic by-products. In addition to resistance, plants also have developed tolerance as an effective co-evolutionary response. Tolerance reduces or eliminates the detrimental effect of damage or infection to the plant. Plants also deploy avoidance even though the plant is not mobile through for instance cryptic coloration.

The phenotypic interface of coevolution. Fitness of each individual involved in interspecific interactions is determined through reciprocal selection both caused and experienced by the phenotypes that mediate the interaction. This phenotypic interface typically involves performance traits that comprise a variety of behavioral, morphological, and physiological components (from Reciprocal Selection at the Phenotypic Interface of Coevolution)

Second of all, plants have been shown to be ‘jack of all trades’

Overall, our survey provides little evidence that genetic trade-offs between defensive traits significantly constrain the evolution of multiple defenses. To a large extent, plants appear to be jacks-of-all-trades, masters of all: they may successfully produce several types of defense without paying considerable trade-offs. Therefore, the original view that multiple defenses are costly and functionally redundant should be replaced by the idea that environmental variability and positive interactions among defenses can make many combinations of defenses possible and evolutionarily advantageous.

Julia Koricheva, Heli Nykanen, and Ernesto Gianoli Meta-analysis of Trade-offs among Plant Antiherbivore  Defenses: Are Plants Jacks-of-All-Trades, Masters of All? The American Naturalist vol. 163 , no . 4 , April 2004

So let’s see how we can explain the ‘paradox’ of Datura Stramonium, aka the Jimson Weed

Datura Stramonium (Jimson Weed)

First the origin of the common name Jimson Weed can be traced back to 1676

Although jimsonweed is synonymous with several species of Datura, this unusual common name is actually derived from D. stramonium. In 1676 British soldiers stationed in Jamestown, Virginia became intoxicated by D. stramonium when it was inadvertently included in their salads by the regimental cooks. The episode was widely publicized and the plant culprit became known as “Jamestown weed”, and later as jimsonweed.

The seeds, leaves, stem, roots and fruits all contain a variety of chemicals

The leaves, stem, root and fruits of Datura contain a battery of tropane alkaloids, the most potent of which are atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine. These alkaloids affect the central nervous system, including nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord which control many direct body functions and the behavior of men and women. They may also affect the autonomic nervous system, which includes the regulation of internal organs, heartbeat, circulation and breathing. One autonomic response of atropine is the dilation of pupils, once considered to be a beautiful and mysterious look in Italian women. In fact, belladonna means “beautiful lady,” so named because sap from the closely related belladonna plant (Atropa belladonna) was used as eye drops to dilate the pupils.

In addition to being used as hallucinogens during religious ceremonies, or as sexual stimulants by prostitutes, or as anesthetics (novocain) or as a drug against motion sickness. One may very well conclude that the ‘designer’ surely had a wide range in applications in mind while creating these drugs…

First of all let’s describe Datura stramonium

©Patrick J. Alexander. Provided by Patrick J. Alexander.

As you can observe, the seed pods are protected by thorns and yet, the seeds themselves are toxic to mammals although cattle is known, under stress, to eat the weeds.

Classification:
Datura stramonium L.

Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Asteridae
Order Solanales
Family Solanaceae – Potato family
Genus Datura L. – jimsonweed
Species Datura stramonium L. – jimsonweed

The Family Solanaceae contains potatoes, eggplant, tobacco as well as nightshade. Another data point: Jimson Weed like most of its family members have been imported from tropical areas. Note that the toxicity of the Jimson Weed is not limited to the seed pods, but includes the leaves, stem, and other parts of the plant. This is important when discussing the relevance of toxic defenses against herbivore insects.

The hypothesis

So now the evolutionary hypothesis

Co-evolution between plants and their natural enemies is generally believed to have generated much of the Earth’s biological diversity. A process analogous to co-evolution occurs in agricultural systems, in which natural enemies adapt to crop resistance introduced by breeding or genetic engineering. Because of this similarity, the investigation of resistance mechanisms in crops is helping to elucidate the workings of co-evolution in nature, while evolutionary principles, including those derived from investigation of co-evolution in nature, are being applied in the management of resistance in genetically engineered crops.

review article Co-evolution and plant resistance to natural enemies Nature 411, 857-864 (14 June 2001)

Thus, in order to understand the evolution of Datura Stramonium, we have to understand its evolutionary history, the original environment(s) in which this evolution took place, and the selective pressures that existed and the genetic variation. In addition we need to show that there are selectable, inheritable traits.

In other words, ecology and molecular biology all need to work together to establish answers to these questions.

Evolution of mixed strategies

In this study we present a simple optimization model for the evolution of defensive strategies (tolerance and resistance) of plants against their natural enemies. The model specifically evaluates the consequences of introducing variable costs and benefits of tolerance and resistance and nonlinear cost-and-benefit functions for tolerance and resistance. Incorporating these assumptions, the present model of plant defense predicts different evolutionary scenarios, not expected by previous work. Basically, the presence of an adaptive peak corresponding to intermediate levels of allocation to tolerance and resistance can arise when the shape parameter of the cost function is higher than the corresponding of the benefit function. The presence of two alternatives peaks of maximum tolerance and maximum resistance occurs only when benefits of tolerance and resistance interact less than additive. Finally, the presence of one peak of maximum resistance or maximum tolerance depends on the relative values of the magnitude of costs for tolerance and resistance. An important outcome of our model is that under a plausible set of conditions, variable costs of tolerance and resistance can represent an important aspect involved in the maintenance of intermediate levels of tolerance and resistance, and in favoring adaptive divergence in plant defensive strategies among populations. The model offers a framework for future theoretical and empirical work toward understanding spatial variation in levels of allocation to different defensive strategies.

EVOLUTION OF MIXED STRATEGIES OF PLANT DEFENSE ALLOCATION AGAINST NATURAL ENEMIES, Evolution, Volume 58, Issue 8 (August 2004)

As such we come to realize that herbivores included both the grazing types (mammals) as well leaf eating types (herbivorous insects).

Thus we need to explain how alkaloid content (the poisonous part of Jimson Weed) is under selective pressure from insect herbivory and how thorns can be both under selective pressures from insect and grazing mammals.

Insect Herbivory and alkaloid content

The first step is to link alkaloid content to insect herbivory.

Abstract.—Although insect herbivory is frequently assumed to be responsible for the maintenance of plant secondary metabolites such as alkaloids, the assumption is controversial and experimental evidence for this assumption is sparse. We examined natural selection on the two major alkaloids present in the leaves of Datura stramonium and found that both alkaloids came under active selection. We found negative directional selection for scopolamine (natural selection acting to reduce scopolamine levels) and stabilizing selection for hyoscyamine (natural selection acting to maintain an intermediate level of hyoscyamine). We also present evidence that insect herbivores act as the agents of selection on these alkaloids. Finally, we show that there were no trade-offs in resistance to different species of insects.

Irene Shonle, Joy Bergelson (2000) EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY OF THE TROPANE ALKALOIDS OF DATURA STRAMONIUM L. (SOLANACEAE) Evolution 54 (3) , 778-788

See also the various references to the above paper

Trichome defense and resistance to herbivorous insects

Then there is Trichome and thorn production. Trichromes are “any protrusion from the epidermis”  and include hairs as well as thorns. For Datura Stramonium, trichromes have been shown to be under selective pressure against insects.

This study assessed the role of leaf trichome density as a component of resistance to herbivores, in six populations of Datura stramonium. Phenotypic selection on plant resistance was estimated for each population. A common garden experiment was carried out to determine if population differences in leaf trichome density are genetically based. Among population differences in leaf trichome density, relative resistance and fitness were found. Leaf trichome density was strongly positively correlated to resistance across populations. In 5 out of 6 populations, trichome density was related to resistance, and positive directional selection on resistance to herbivores was detected in three populations. Differences among populations in mean leaf trichome density in the common garden suggest genetic differentiation for this character in Datura stramonium. The results are considered in the light of the adaptive role of leaf trichomes as a component of defence to herbivores, and variable selection among populations.

Defensive role of leaf trichomes in resistance to herbivorous insects in Datura stramonium, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Volume 14 Issue 3 Page 424-432, May 2001

Conclusions

Contrary to creationists’ claims, evolutionary theory can in fact very well explain the ‘paradox’ that the Jimson Weed has a poisonous seed pod, protected by thorns, understanding that the complex ecologies involve predation by mammals as well as insects, that alkaloid content is a selectable trait in response to insect predation, that alkaloid content extends across the plant, not just the seed pods and that the plant has a variety of defenses against its predators. In addition trichomes have been shown to be selectable defenses against insects and the evolution of thorns to protect the seed pods from predation by mammals may very well have been a simultaneous evolution with alkaloid defenses. While I have yet to do the research into the following area, it is not difficult to imagine how trichome defenses, initially evolved against insect predation and that thorns evolved as an additional protection of the seed pods against predation by larger animals, over time additional defenses came ‘on line’ including chemical defenses against insects.

Other Claims

Its roots, stems and leaves all contain trace amount of natural poisons, including several alkaloid compounds. And yet, the MOST toxic area of the plant is found in the seed pod.

versus

This paper reports a study of the alkaloid content of different parts of Datura stramoniumL. (Solanaceae) in various stages of its growth and development, and the location, structure and ultrastructure of alkaloid-biosynthesizing cells (idioblasts) in different parts of naturally grown and cultured plant material. TLC, HPLC, and GC/MS methods were used for alkaloid assays. The results showed that alkaloid production starts from the end of the second week after seed germination, increases in different organs up to the tenth week of growth, and then decreases. Leaves and capsules showed the highest alkaloid content in the vegetative and generative stages, respectively. In leaves the alkaloids decreased rapidly in the generative stage. The highest alkaloid content was recorded in vegetative leaves, followed in descending order by vegetative petioles, generative and vegetative stems, generative petioles, generative roots, generative leaves, vegetative roots and mature seeds. The organs as well as calli derived from different leaf parts were examined for the presence of idioblasts by microscopic and cytochemical methods. Idioblasts were present only in semi-hyaline callus originated from leaf base; they were spherical or oval, with a thick cell wall and large central vacuole. These observations should prove helpful in attempts to produce specific alkaloids in naturally grown plants and cell cultures.

In DISTRIBUTION OF ATROPINE AND SCOPOLAMINE IN DIFFERENT ORGANS  AND STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT IN DATURA STRAMONIUML. (SOLANACEAE). STRUCTURE AND ULTRASTRUCTURE  OF BIOSYNTHESIZING CELLS

Alkaloid contents

Other factors

Evolutionary ecology of Datura stramonium: equal plant fitness benefits of growth and resistance against herbivory.

Abstract:
This study evaluated how natural selection act upon two proposed alternatives of defence (growth and resistance) against natural enemies in a common garden experiment using genetic material (full-sibs) from three populations of the annual plant Datura stramonium. Genetic and phenotypic correlations were used to search for a negative association between both alternatives of defence. Finally, the presence/absence of natural enemies was manipulated to evaluate the selective value of growth as a response against herbivory. Results indicated the presence of genetic variation for growth and resistance (1 – relative damage), whereas only population differentiation for resistance was detected. No correlation between growth and resistance was detected either at the phenotypic or the genetic level. Selection analysis revealed the presence of equal fitness benefits of growth and resistance among populations. The presence/absence of natural herbivores revealed that herbivory did not alter the pattern of selection on growth. The results indicate that both strategies of defence can evolve simultaneously within populations of D. stramonium.

and

Abstract:
This study evaluated how natural selection act upon two proposed alternatives of defence (growth and resistance) against natural enemies in a common garden experiment using genetic material (full-sibs) from three populations of the annual plant Datura stramonium. Genetic and phenotypic correlations were used to search for a negative association between both alternatives of defence. Finally, the presence/absence of natural enemies was manipulated to evaluate the selective value of growth as a response against herbivory. Results indicated the presence of genetic variation for growth and resistance (1 – relative damage), whereas only population differentiation for resistance was detected. No correlation between growth and resistance was detected either at the phenotypic or the genetic level. Selection analysis revealed the presence of equal fitness benefits of growth and resistance among populations. The presence/absence of natural herbivores revealed that herbivory did not alter the pattern of selection on growth. The results indicate that both strategies of defence can evolve simultaneously within populations of D. stramonium.

VALVERDE, P. L. ; FORNONI, J. ; NUNEZ-FARFAN, J. Evolutionary ecology of Datura stramonium: equal plant fitness benefits of growth and resistance against herbivory. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 16(1):127-137, January 2003.

Now we look at

Juan Núñez-Farfán, Juan Fornoni, Pedro Luis Valverde The Evolution of Resistance and Tolerance to Herbivores Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, December 2007, Vol. 38, Pages 541-566

Tolerance and resistance are two different plant defense strategies against herbivores. Empirical evidence in natural populations reveals that individual plants allocate resources simultaneously to both strategies, thus plants exhibit a mixed pattern of defense. In this review we examine the conditions that promote the evolutionary stability of mixed defense strategies in the light of available empirical and theoretical evidence. Given that plant tolerance and resistance are heritable and subject to environmentally dependent selection and genetic constraints, the joint evolution of tolerance and resistance is analyzed, with consideration of multiple species interactions and the plant mating system. The existence of mixed defense strategies in plants makes it necessary to re-explore the coevolutionary process between plants and herbivores, which centered historically on resistance as the only defensive mechanism. In addition, we recognize briefly the potential use of plant tolerance for pest management. Finally, we highlight unresolved issues for future development in this field of evolutionary ecology.

Update 05-22-2008

55 Comments »

  1. Interesting. I wondered why they were so anxious to discuss thorns (on Panda’s Thumb). I guess it did not occur to them that a range of pests might call for a range of defences. In their claim they say “And yet, the MOST toxic area of the plant is found in the seed pod.” From the results here, though, it seems that the capsule (what they call the ‘pod’) contains less of the alkaloids than either the leaf or the petiole of vegetative plants and about the same as the stem. The seed itself has the lowest level of the alkaloids. Why am I not surprised that their ‘facts’ are not borne out by the evidence?

    In their claim they apparently believe that organisms can only evolve features if they are aware of the benefit. This is like someone I heard on the radio when I was a child, claiming that protective colouring was proof that beetles could see those colours. I suspect this is a very common misunderstanding.

    Finally, in their claim they come very close to saying ‘it’s useful to us, therefore it must have been designed’, which is something I have not met before.

    Comment by Richard Simons — May 12, 2008 @ 1:34 am | Reply

  2. PS: That smiley was intended to be a close bracket, not a dig at the people making the claim.

    Comment by Richard Simons — May 12, 2008 @ 1:35 am | Reply

  3. Very nicely done!

    It’s funny that you had to explain the “ID” advocate’s own argument to him… He was under the mistaken impression that the thorns were there to *protect* the animals from the toxic seeds, while the notion of the plant using the thorns (as well as the alkaloids) to protect *itelf* seemed not to even have occurred to him.

    Additionally, it might be worth addressing the confusion that leads him to think that plants must “consciously know” something about their environment or interactions with other species in order to evolve a response. I’ve seen a lot of creationists/IDers ignorantly make this same mistake.

    Comment by Ichneumon — May 12, 2008 @ 4:09 am | Reply

  4. The seed itself has the lowest level of the alkaloids. Why am I not surprised that their ‘facts’ are not borne out by the evidence?

    I am still trying to figure out the contradicting reports on this. The paper I quoted seems to have done the actual measurements but some medical works report on the risk of seeds.

    Need to do some work here, but it’s at best a minor side issue.

    Comment by idexposed — May 12, 2008 @ 4:16 am | Reply

  5. In their claim they apparently believe that organisms can only evolve features if they are aware of the benefit.

    They do that at Panda’s Thumb now, without correcting (of course) when explained what the theory is. At the same time they deny this in their claim, which makes it humoristically stand out when they claim that multiple independent defenses are a problem. (How would the plant “know”? Exactly!)

    I assume the later also falls back on the usual mischaracterization that evolution have to work on one trait at a time, one mutation at a time, one nucleic acid at a time, one individual at a time.

    Finally, it seems multiple traits are neither backups, additive nor possibly synergistic. According to their view rabbits should have either good hearing or good legs, so there can’t be an advantage in hearing the predator early when fleeing fast.

    Comment by Torbjörn Larsson, OM — May 12, 2008 @ 8:40 am | Reply

  6. There is a simpler rebuttal. A lot of young earth creationists claim that all animals were vegetarians before the fall (even T. rex). They believe that eating plants isn’t equivalent to them dying because there was no death before the fall. Why would the designer make it more difficult for animals to eat plants? Some of them might turn into carnivores. It is obvious that the designer had nothing to do with evolving plant defenses, and they all must have evolved after the fall and most likely after the flood when the few thousand surviving pairs of animals on the ark needed everything that they could possibly eat on the barren flood waste land to reproduce and evolve into the millions of species that we see today. What were the carnivores eating right after Noah let them go? They must have still been vegetarians. It would have taken just one cat, dog, wolverine, raptor, etc. to eat momma rat and we wouldn’t have rat problems today.

    On a more serious note, thorns on seed pods are also used for seed distribution because they allow the pods to get stuck onto mobile animals and transported for some distance.

    Comment by Ron Okimoto — May 12, 2008 @ 11:40 am | Reply

  7. Very nice. Thanks! An interesting field to look into.

    Let’s hope the uncle/nephew pairing read this…

    Comment by Kenneth Oberlander — May 12, 2008 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

  8. “They have no ability for any analytical thought process. They also have no sensory perception, like animals, so they would not know of potential danger from its toxic seeds. How and why would it possess this defense mechanism ?”

    So are the IDiots thinking defensive mechanisms arise out of “conscious thought process and sensory perception”? Like a thinking goat publishes a paper titled, “On the relative merits of horns over carapace as defensive mechanism. What we goats should grow to survive in a hostile carnivore filled world”.

    Comment by Ravilyn Sanders — May 12, 2008 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

  9. Beautifully done. Thank you for the time you put into this.

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — May 12, 2008 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  10. The failure for creationists to recognize scientific merit is just so frustrating… maybe ‘ignorance’ is too harsh of a word here

    Comment by james — May 12, 2008 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  11. I think Alden is arguing that thorns are present to protect herbivores from toxic seeds. The thorns are designed to protect us. A truly dizzying example of intelligent design.

    Comment by Will TS — May 12, 2008 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  12. Beautifully written. I enjoyed it!

    Comment by The Ardent Thread — May 12, 2008 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  13. I was amazed how much scientific research had been done on this plant (I assume this has nothing to do with the narcotic effects :-)).

    The plant is classified as a noxic weed in many/most states as it poses danger to children and farm animals and crops. Yes, there have been instances in which the crop included seeds from the Jimson weed and the products based on these seeds contained toxic chemicals. Also, when hay is harvested, the inclusion of these weeds can cause a variety of problems. There have been cases of severe colic in horses. And then there are a variety of ‘tea parties’ gone wrong…

    Comment by idexposed — May 12, 2008 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

  14. On a more serious note, thorns on seed pods are also used for seed distribution because they allow the pods to get stuck onto mobile animals and transported for some distance.

    Excellent observation. Another selectable trait. I believe the message is that evolutionary theory has, contrary to creationist belief, done quite a bit of work to better understand and explain the origin and evolution of the Jimson Weed.

    Comment by idexposed — May 12, 2008 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

  15. The spines may simply discourage large mammals from eating the pods in the first place, poisonous or not. After all it’s better, in an evolutionary sense, to not be eaten in the first place, than to be eaten and kill what ate you. Only one of those strategies gets the plant’s genes passed to the next generation. Horse chestnuts (Aesculus spp.) may use the same strategy (although they do eventually pop open and release the toxic seeds).

    But I’m a botanist and I’ll throw out yet another possibility: many insects use bright coloration to warn predators that they are poisonous (or just taste really, really bad). The spines of Datura (and perhaps Aesculus) species may serve a similar purpose, in that they alert a browsing animal to the fact that this is something they don’t want to eat as soon as they nibble at it. Sample it once, get sick, never sample another one again.

    Comment by MrDarwin — May 12, 2008 @ 9:27 pm | Reply

  16. Now of course, a scientist, informed that not just the seeds, but the leaves of the plant are toxic, and that indeed animals are frequently intoxicated by eating the plant (one would think that its common name, “loco weed,” referring to its effect on animals that eat it might have provided a clue), thereby demonstrating that the spines do not, in fact, protect animals from intoxication, would say “Well, I guess my hypothesis was wrong–either the designer was not very intelligent, or there was no designer.”

    Somehow, I doubt if that will happen in this case…

    And if the designer really wanted to make the plant toxic in order to provide us with a useful medicine, why not simply give it a bad taste, rather than potentially injurious (not to mention ineffective) spines? More evidence for lack of intelligence on the part of the designer?

    Of course, he is so blinkered that the possibility that the spines and toxin might serve the same function–protection of the plant from being eaten, rather than protection of the animal from poisoning–could never occur to him. A plant would not require protection against being eaten, because an Intelligent Designer would simply design his animals not to eat so much as to damage the plant.

    Comment by trrll — May 12, 2008 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

  17. “We have to remember that there are a variety of potential selective pressures that MAY GUIDE the evolution of these defenses”

    so iow’s…in spite of all that…stuff…you aedmit evolution has not real clue about the subject…

    just like star dating…sheesh…”after some assumptions”…blah blah blah…(rolls eyes and walks off wondering why people can’t hear their own lack of evidence…)…

    Comment by wordsseldomsaid — May 12, 2008 @ 10:38 pm | Reply

  18. ps…and since you obviously do not know what you are speaking about…

    one…it does not take a mass quantity to be harmful…as the right stage as much as..TWO…yes TWO can be fatal to humans…

    and theyare often eaten recreationally to induce visions of demons…yes demons…that is what they are considered by the users to specialize in…though many visions happen, the demon visit is the main purpose for many who eat them(never tried it myself)…

    so the…FACTS…you are offering are lacking in their own words about what…MAY GUIDE…and your info itself abou tthe nature of the seeds is in error…sheesh…

    “evolution, evolution”…once again in it’s explaination…FAILED!…and only admitted what it did not know…spoke ignorantly and falsely about what it thought it did…and calls it ‘science’….

    Comment by wordsseldomsaid — May 12, 2008 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

  19. “We have to remember that there are a variety of potential selective pressures that MAY GUIDE the evolution of these defenses”

    It seems that WordSeldomSaid is confused about this general statement and the specifics of the argument which have shown the existence of these various selective pressures.

    I am not sure what to do to further clarify these matters but to repeat what I said:

    First I make a general statement that:

    In order to understand the evolution of such defenses one has to realize that there may be a variety of potential selective pressures that MAY guide evolution.

    Then I explain how there are genetic determinants for the level of alkaloids in the plant in question and how there are selective pressures related to insect herbivory.

    Comment by idexposed — May 12, 2008 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  20. This was a very good essay. I have a question about seed propogation: wouldn’t the toxicity, and the thorns be a detriment to propogation via scat?
    Of course, there are some plants that use this vehicle to propogate…I would be curious to see if that vehicle was selected out, or if it ever was a vehicle.

    Again, great essay!

    Comment by BobbyEarle — May 12, 2008 @ 11:47 pm | Reply

  21. Ron Okimoto said (May 12, 2008 @ 11:40 am] —
    –“On a more serious note, thorns on seed pods are also used for seed distribution because they allow the pods to get stuck onto mobile animals and transported for some distance.”–

    Yes — these thorny seed pods look like “cockleburs.” However, the Jimson weed belongs to the genus Datura whereas website articles about cockleburs apply the term cocklebur only to the seed pods of the genus Xanthium and I don’t know the reason for this restriction. The articles about the Xanthium plants suggest that the toxins might occur only or mainly in the seed pods in those plants.

    The effects of the toxins are not instantaneous in the case of Jimson weed, and in such case I do not see how the toxins can provide protection against predators unless the toxins exterminate or decimate the predators. Where the effects of the toxins are not instantaneous, animals are unlikely to learn to associate those effects with the plants.

    Some of the scientific discussion in this article is incredibly unintelligible.

    Comment by Larry Fafarman — May 12, 2008 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  22. Wow. That original anti-evolution argument shows a gross misunderstanding of biology. One cannot refute something in a field they are ignorant on. Perhaps scientifically-inclined people would give more respect to intelligent design advocates if they would bother to do their homework.

    Comments number seventeen and eighteen are incoherent and probably hurt the poster’s cause more than help. It’s really trying on those engaged in the sciences to have to weather these ignorant jabs. A person can pull a ridiculous assumption out of thin air and throw it into the public forum. The public majority does not have the scientific knowledge to analyze these ridiculous assumptions critically, so the educated must take time to refute them properly. It’s a sad inequality, but a responsibility we must take as we move into a society more integrated with technology and science.

    I wish I could say I take this debate with a grain of salt, but I don’t. I use it as an impetus for continuing with my studies. It is those ignorant hordes who would prefer me to study the history of vegetarian dinosaurs who walked the Earth 6,000 years ago. Every time I think of how ridiculous it is that these ideas have any degree of acceptance, it encourages me to get back to studying the sciences in earnest.

    I appreciate this blog and congratulations on showing that outrageous claims will not go unexcused.

    Comment by Mike — May 13, 2008 @ 12:23 am | Reply

  23. This was a very good essay. I have a question about seed propogation: wouldn’t the toxicity, and the thorns be a detriment to propogation via scat?

    Interesting question. Until I resolve the question regarding seeds and alkaloid content, this seems to be a tough one. But yes, plants often use digestion to spread seeds, and as I understand Jimson Weed is extremely capable on spreading itself quickly.

    Interestingly, some animals are unaffected by Datura Beetles have developed biochemical defenses against the plants potent chemicals and ants appear to have done the same, often being observed carrying away the seeds. Bees are unaffected as well and various species of birds are known to eat the seeds, thereby acting as a dispersal mechanism for the plant (Siegel 1989:24). Using animals as a model to learn from, ancient hunters and gatherers probably began using Datura and many incorporated it into shamanistic rituals, a more controlled environment for ingestion of such a powerful and dangerous hallucinogen.

    Source

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 12:48 am | Reply

  24. Some of the scientific discussion in this article is incredibly unintelligible.

    I will attempt to simplify language and explanations to the level of Larry.

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 12:49 am | Reply

  25. The effects of the toxins are not instantaneous in the case of Jimson weed, and in such case I do not see how the toxins can provide protection against predators unless the toxins exterminate or decimate the predators.

    Its called ‘aversion’ where species learn that some plants or organisms have nasty consequences.

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 12:51 am | Reply

  26. My working hypothesis is that mature seeds contain far less alkaloids than immature seeds

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 1:03 am | Reply

  27. All this erudition might impress some. But really, the foundation is rotten. What do you think the possibility of life starting by random chance is?

    Comment by René Greenwood — May 13, 2008 @ 3:10 am | Reply

  28. All this erudition might impress some. But really, the foundation is rotten. What do you think the possibility of life starting by random chance is?

    Pretty rotten. Good thing life did not start by random chance. But I am glad you brought this up since my next contribution, which is almost finished, discusses the origin of life. Including cool video and powerpoints. If you liked the quick work I did on the thorns, then surely you will like the next presentation.

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 3:25 am | Reply

  29. Why did the ‘creator’ not protect humans from eating jack beans which contain the deadly canatoxin?
    An appeal to a ‘creator’ just raises more questions than it solves

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 5:21 am | Reply

  30. idexposed sez,
    –“I will attempt to simplify language and explanations to the level of Larry.”–

    I’m waiting.

    –“The effects of the toxins are not instantaneous in the case of Jimson weed, and in such case I do not see how the toxins can provide protection against predators unless the toxins exterminate or decimate the predators.

    Its called ‘aversion’ where species learn that some plants or organisms have nasty consequences.”–

    You quote-mined me, darn you — you omitted my explanatory sentence, “Where the effects of the toxins are not instantaneous, animals are unlikely to learn to associate those effects with the plants.” The idea is that because of the big time lag between cause and effect, animals would not make the connection.

    The plants that really defy evolution are the plants that use buzz pollination. I discuss buzz pollination on my blog under the post label “Non-ID criticisms of evolution” (post labels are listed in the sidebar). My blog is at —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/

    Comment by Larry Fafarman — May 13, 2008 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  31. Pretty rotten. Good thing life did not start by random chance. But I am glad you brought this up since my next contribution, which is almost finished, discusses the origin of life. Including cool video and powerpoints. If you liked the quick work I did on the thorns, then surely you will like the next presentation.

    Can it be that you are serious? I sit here just stunned. I cannot find words to describe your delusion.

    Comment by René Greenwood — May 13, 2008 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  32. Can it be that you are serious? I sit here just stunned. I cannot find words to describe your delusion.

    What, you believe that life started by random chance? Or am I delusional for believing that you may like my next presentation?

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

  33. What do you think the possibility of life starting by random chance is?

    What do you think the likelihood of someone describing evolution or abiogenesis as “random chance” of being a creationist is?

    Abiogenesis isn’t a foundation for evolution, that can as easily accommodate common descent from *poof* of the first replicators as from natural processes.

    Hmm. One process that decidedly doesn’t seem to be random is a solution to symmetry breaking of racemization. The possible coupling of reaction pathways is a likely pathway that is decidedly deterministic. (Albeit contingent of course.)

    So I would tend to agree, it is very unlikely that “random chance” describes the full process. Another circumstance that denies that is the short time between the formation of the crust and the first evidences of life. If life started so easily there must be huge deterministic shortcuts such as the one of symmetry breaking of racemization between the vagaries of contingencies.

    Comment by Torbjörn Larsson, OM — May 13, 2008 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

  34. Remember that an important part of the origins of life is the laws of physics which guide the self formation of amphiphiles into vesicles, which guide the separation of left and right entiomers and so on. While the first steps of origins of life may indeed not be guided by selection, it is certainly NOT random.

    Comment by idexposed — May 13, 2008 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

  35. There’s considerable variation as to what effect defensive strategies will have on different creatures. For example, I often eat apple and apricot seeds, which are nominally toxic (though also said to confer health benefits). The toxins are likely a strong deterrent to smaller animals like insects and rodents.

    Other examples: Not many animals find eucalyptus leaves edible, but koalas are dependent on them. And the clownfish not only have evolved immunity to the poison of anemones, but exploit it as their own defense against predators. Similarly with the monarch butterfly and milkweed poison.

    Comment by Dave — May 13, 2008 @ 11:33 pm | Reply

  36. Larry Fafarman wrote:

    “The effects of the toxins are not instantaneous in the case of Jimson weed, and in such case I do not see how the toxins can provide protection against predators unless the toxins exterminate or decimate the predators. Where the effects of the toxins are not instantaneous, animals are unlikely to learn to associate those effects with the plants.”

    Actually, the effect need not be immediate. For humans, aversion may result when as many as 18 hours have elapsed between ingestion and perceived illness.

    This has been dubbed the “Sauce Bearnaise Effect” by a researcher (I can’t recall who it was, now) who had a long-standing aversion to Sauce Bearnaise after he became sick (apparently for an unrelated reason) many hours after a meal featuring that creation. For the same reason, I have a similar problem with rhubarb, an absolutely detestable, nausea-inducing menace.

    It’s not in the herbivore’s interest to have a poison detection system that only works well if you die quickly.

    Comment by Shebardigan — May 14, 2008 @ 3:47 am | Reply

  37. Good point, as a child I used to love mocha flavored deserts but when I fell victim of a stomach flue, I must have blamed the mocha desert I had for dinner since from that moment onwards, I could not stand the smell or thought of my once favorite desert.

    Excellent contributions people… Keeping us all on our toes.

    Comment by idexposed — May 14, 2008 @ 4:16 am | Reply

  38. Seems that the goal posts are moving quickly with Larry informing us that

    The plants that really defy evolution are the plants that use buzz pollination. I discuss buzz pollination on my blog under the post label “Non-ID criticisms of evolution”

    Does buzz pollination defy evolution or merely Larry’s understanding? Time shall tell.

    Comment by idexposed — May 18, 2008 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

  39. * Attn: Pim van Meurs –

    My sincere thanks for posting this blog. After reading your diatribe above, it’s now obvious that your intended consequences have since backfired. Your attempt at ” exposing ” ID, should instead read ” Intelligent Design now VALIDATED. ” A quick outline and thus a dismantling of your bogus rebuttal.

    1.) Pim says IDers have a flawed understanding of evolutionary theory. ( a common defense.) Incorrect. We comprehend the ” theory ” quite well. It’s the claims of TOE, that we thus reject outright. To say we IDers ” just don’t understand basic biology, blah, blah, blah,” is a common tactic used by all evos-inbreds, when they can no longer support their own arguments. The theory of neo-darwinism is a belief system. It’s faith – based on counter theories, like co-evolution, parallel evolution, monster mutations, punctuated equilibrium & a host of other nonsensical fairy tales. In other words, it’s a religion.

    2.) Pim states that ” One may very well conclude that the Designer surely had a wide range of applications in mind, while creating these drugs ” ( i.e. those found in Datura stramonium ) The implication here is the Creator is somehow misguided, in allowing toxins to be present within our universe. Quite the contrary. According to Pim’s Christian God, which he claims to believe in, mankind is given the responsibility of free will, to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, benefit and detriment, etc. What again are the components, of these potential toxins? Do they possibly serve any beneficial purpose ? Yes. Atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine are all listed as controlled substances and are utilized by the medical profession to treat a variety of conditions: as an antidote to combat nerve agents, to treat heart problems, for ophthalmic used by eye doctors, to treat stomach disorders and much more. Another example from nature, is found in the beneficial use of morphine. It’s prescribed by hospitals around the world, for pain relief. It comes from opium, which is derived from poppy plants. Gosh, you mean there are plants that exist in nature, which contain beneficial uses, yet also have potentially deadly consequences ? Wow. Thus, for Pim to claim that he can’t understand the thought process of the Designer, only exposes his own ignorance. That’s why the Creator is given respect as the Intelligent Designer, not the Pim Designer.

    3.) Next, Pim uses the following contradiction in logic, by stating ” In other words, ecology and molecular biology all need to work together to establish answers to these questions.” This easily exposes yet another fallacy of evolutionary theory. Lord Charles said that there is no arrow, no purpose, and no guiding principles, within the theory of evolution. To achieve any utility of function in nature, denotes a purpose. Why then the claim by Pim, that everything needs to be working in perfect, structured order, for these beneficial mutations to all miraculously take place. Reason ? Structured order equals Intelligent Design.

    4.) Pim then uses flawed research, which has since been discredited, that was conducted in Garmsar, Iran. Those studies of Datura stramonium were conducted under laboratory conditions. Jimson weed grows in the wild, and thrives on highly organic soil. Pim’s table from the Garmsar research attempts to show that the seeds product a very low amount of tropane alkaloids. Once again, this is false. For brevity, I’ll present the following quotes, from a variety of research centers. According to scientific studies conducted at the Plant Physiology department in Brussels, Belgium; “… the level of alkaloid compounds within Datura stramonium, are affected by the amount of nitrogen present in the soil. Highly organic matter can cause a spike in all toxic components, namely the SEEDS. Other references of note : University of Pittsburgh, School of Pathology, study titled – Final Diagnosis – Jimson Weed Toxicity, states ” The highest alkaloid content is often found in the seeds ( 0.4%)” Plus, Purdue University’s Plant research center for animal medicine states ” The Seeds of the Datura stramonium, provide the greatest risk of alkaloid toxicity, from animal ingestion.” Plus, the West Virginia Poison Control Centers study that found ” The SEEDS pose the GREATEST risk of alkaloid poisoning.” plus the US Centers for Disease Control- Study on Jimson Weed poisoning- states ” Although all parts of the plant are toxic, the highest concentration of tropane alkaloids are present in the SEEDS.” I rest my case. So much for Pim’s lame attempt at claiming the seeds pose a small risk of lethality and thus no DESIGNER would ever have encased the seed pod with thorns, as a deterrent.

    5.) In Pim’s conclusion, he enforces the concept of evolutionary theory, being nothing more than a belief system. He states ” … it is not difficult to IMAGINE how trichome defenses initially evolved ….” Imagine ? We must now use our imagination Pim, to accept the flawed theories of evolution ? Imagination is code for evos-science fiction, Pim.
    By default, you have just provided even more proof for the validity of Intelligent Design.

    6.) In closing, I noticed that Pim van Meurs conveniently dodged the second example of thorns in nature, that being the honey locust tree. This is obviously based on yet additional flawed data often promoted by evos-inbreds, most notably featured in the book by Connie Barlow titled ” The Ghosts of Evolution.” This compilation of fairy tales has long since been discredited. It provides no validity to scientific research. It was merely written for entertainment purposes. Can you say science-fiction ? The whole argument for thorns having evolved on the trunk of the honey locust tree, as a deterrent to mastodons, is simply comical.
    The evos rant, for thorns existing in nature, presents even more questions than it answers. If the locust tree developed these thorns as a deterrent, why didn’t all the other trees simply grow thorns, to protect their nuts and fruits and vegetation from the destruction of animals ? OR, If it instinctively developed these mutations, it could just as easily have since discarded them, since the mastodon is now extinct. ( No wait, the flawed evos logic only works one way. ) In addition, how does ANY plant know that a thorn will cause a negative sensory reaction in its prodding of an animal ? Plants KNEW that a point on the tip of a thorn, generates a pain reaction in a mastodon ? This is simply a BOGUS belief system. Finally, the back of Barlow’s book is credited by none other than Carl Zimmer, aka the non-scientist. Zimmer wrote his own book titled ” Evolution, The triumph of an Idea.” What ? an IDEA ? Wait, evolution is not based on scientific proof, no validity, and no real research ? Its foundation is simply an IDEA ? Wait, I think I’ve got it. It’s based on a concept, not proven scientific principles. It’s a belief system, …. like religion. Now I get it.

    Intelligent Design is thus now validated. Thorns in nature exist for a distinct purpose. They are not simply based on random mutations, or genetic drift, or co-evolution or any other fairy tale theory used to support the evos-inbred, propaganda machine.

    Comment by Joseph Alden — May 22, 2008 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

  40. It is clear that Joseph Alden has confirmed that ‘design’ is at best an argument from ignorance where lack of evidence for a scientific explanation is used to claim stronger support for ‘design’. What is even funnier is Alden’s use of ad hominems when referring to evolutionists. It’s easy to tell you have won an argument when the opponent starts with a lot of bombast and not content.

    While I understand Alden’s attempt to claim, not argue through logic, that ID is right and evolutionary theory is wrong, he fails to show an understanding of the issues related to evolutionary theory, which he seems to reject but not understand.

    For instance

    Joseph Alden wrote:3.) Next, Pim uses the following contradiction in logic, by stating ” In other words, ecology and molecular biology all need to work together to establish answers to these questions.” This easily exposes yet another fallacy of evolutionary theory. Lord Charles said that there is no arrow, no purpose, and no guiding principles, within the theory of evolution. To achieve any utility of function in nature, denotes a purpose. Why then the claim by Pim, that everything needs to be working in perfect, structured order, for these beneficial mutations to all miraculously take place. Reason ? Structured order equals Intelligent Design.

    Since evolutionary theory is based on function, Alden has discovered that which scientists have been saying all the time, namely that evolution is teleological, although it is not a final cause teleology but rather an internal teleology. So when Darwin stated that there is no arrow, he was obviously not talking about function since function is what he claimed his theory selects for. So if it was not function, what did Darwin mean by no purpose. For that it is up to Alden to show how Darwin makes his claims of ‘no purpose’.

    For instance

    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
    Charles Darwin

    It is clear that Darwin in this context is not talking about function but rather about what Ayala describes so well as external teleology rather than bounded teleology.

    In fact Alden has exposed why ID fails, namely function is considered sufficient as a specification to determine specified complexity, thus anything with function which we do not yet understand is argued to be complex and specified and thus designed. But since natural selection results in function, natural selection cannot be excluded as the ‘designer’.

    I am glad that Alden exemplifies the scientific vacuity of ID when he shares with us his deep ignorance of the science involved.

    Sad really but I have found such ignorance to be the foundation of many ID creationist’s arguments, in this case it seems not much better.

    In Christ

    Comment by PvM — May 22, 2008 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  41. So much for Pim’s lame attempt at claiming the seeds pose a small risk of lethality and thus no DESIGNER would ever have encased the seed pod with thorns, as a deterrent.

    This of course misrepresents my argument since the lethality of the seeds is of no real relevance to the evolutionary pathways I did present. My observation was that contrary to your claim, evidence suggested that the seeds were free from alkaloids, something which the research suggests. Immature seeds do indeed contain a high level of alkaloids, however for mature seeds, this question seems hardly that self evident. I know that there are various sites that make the claim about the seeds, but there is often no supporting articles cited for their claims and the few articles that did look at the alkaloid content, found, contrary to these ‘facts’ that seeds contain far less alkaloids at the mature stage.

    But as I said, this is a minor issue and I am more than willing to grant you that the seeds are indeed poisonous as it in no way affect the evolutionary explanations.

    After all my argument is not what Alden pretends it to be.

    I found another interesting table (see appended table end of my main posting)

    The obtained results demonstrate that atropine and scopolamine contents depend on both the plant part considered and the stage of plant growth. In young plants, maximum atropine content was found in leaves of medium surface, while highest scopolamine content was observed in the apical leaves. According to many authors [1,3-5,17,18], in leaves of young D. stramonium plants scopolamine content is higher than that of atropine. On the contrary, in our samples, atropine was always the principal alkaloid, scopolamine content decreasing at the increase of leaf surface.

    Source: Elisabetta Miraldi, Distribution of hyoscyamine and scopolamine in Datura stramonium, Fitoterapia 72 (2001) pp 644-648

    Comment by idexposed — May 22, 2008 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  42. According to scientific studies conducted at the Plant Physiology department in Brussels, Belgium

    I am looking forward to the exact citation: Journal, volume, authors, title etc.

    Could you also present the research that showed that the research I presented relating to alkaloid content of seeds was erroneous?

    Comment by idexposed — May 22, 2008 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  43. In closing, I noticed that Pim van Meurs conveniently dodged the second example of thorns in nature, that being the honey locust tree.

    Tone down your rhetoric. I did not dodge the second example, I focused on the first example and found it lacking in logic and scientific support.

    If Alden is, as it seems, unable to address the scientific arguments and instead insists on an ad hoc ‘id’ explanation then fine but he should not make the claim that evolutionary theory cannot explain thorns on Datura Stramonium fruits.

    Comment by idexposed — May 22, 2008 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

  44. wow. lol. I read the first paragraph and skipped the rest. what complete garbage. it reminds me of my little brother who, in arguing his case proves the point for the other person. The throns are a first line of defense. the animal doesn’t know the seeds are poisonous hence the menacing appearance of thorns as a warning. the thorns could also be benificial in the fact they can latch onto an animal. as a matter of fact a common trait in poisonous plants is purple veins in the leaf.(Datura Metel.) unnatural color is usualy a defense to show that what the predator is seeing is alien and strange making it not want to find out what will happen if it eats it. Poison Dart frogs are undeniable proof. Seeing as the poison in a dart frog is not created by the frog itself (or any higher power for that matter) it is created by the poisonous mites and various bugs it eats. the poison is secreted out of the pores of its skin so it would have to have evolved those vibrant colors as a warning over time.

    the thing is is that even plants share common chromosomes with humans. and if an intelligent designer did create life than why would he create them in such a way that the simplest of lifeforms lead up to the most complex. almost as if they evolved. one of our biggest assets as human beings is our brains ability to recognize patterns. all evolution is is a recognition of a pattern amongst all life. so what have we done wrong? all we are doing is trying to make a hypothesis based on the patterns we see.

    Comment by Dom — August 22, 2008 @ 10:34 am | Reply

  45. very many plants contain alkaloids. every datura species contains the alkaloids scopolamine hyoscamine and atropine. the alkaloid content varies in every plant. you could have one plant that has more in its seeds or its leaves. the biggest factor in that variety is the ENVIROMENT. I have literally proven this with my own experimentation and research. in most plants such as peruvian torch cacti if you treat the plant to less than ideal conditions you can raise its alkaloid content. everything in plants is about adaption. if there is a draught more flowers are produced for seed. seeds can survive much harsher conditions than a plant. seeing as the biggest thing that separates christianity from the rest is that jesus was ressurected (sorry i didn’t want to refer to any religion in general I wanted to just argue against intelligent design.) wouldn’t a plant with its ability to die back in winter be compared? There have been seeds that have been germinated that were sitting in a museum for 100 years. seeds don’t have to be given life by a creator. once H2O reaches the embreyo inside a chemical reaction occurs and a seed is revitalized. if any of that isn’t adaption than define adaption for me one more time

    Comment by Dom — August 22, 2008 @ 10:49 am | Reply

  46. “Structured order equals Intelligent Design.”

    no the illusion of structured order in cells is mitosis in action. there is no “need” for structured order. that is a human trait. that things have to be in order as we are to be real. the vast biodiversity of earth can show that there is not much structured order involved. just individual species that branch off in the quest for survival. what is so structured about a venus fly trap? a leaf that evolved into a moving mechanism that can digest a bug? Intelligent Design theory is that something is so complex that it had to have been made by something. but you can use the same logic to say how can something have such divine power to create such a complex state of matter that has a will of its own?

    Comment by Dom — August 22, 2008 @ 11:10 am | Reply

  47. Once again, we have yet another evos – inbred, aka Dom, sharing with us, even more worthless psycho – babble. It’s not even a valid response, but merely another darwinian rant. Dom is easily exposed as both a fraud and a liar, since dear Dom begins by stating that ” only the first paragraph was read and the rest was skipped, blah, blah, blah.” Funny how Dom then proceeded to comment on issues beyond just the ” first paragraph.” What a fraud.

    Let us quickly summarize the original intent of this topic. I’ll keep it simple, for all of the Lord Charles simpletons in evo-land. Please pay attention this time. That includes you Pim.

    The original debate was over thorns. The whys and hows of their existence in nature. An example was presented; Datura stramonium, commonly known as jimsonweed. IDers claim the thorns serve a distinct purpose. They encase a pod of toxic seeds. Evos in-breds contradict themselves, as usual, first by claiming they are merely the result of random, genetic mutations, that occurred over millions of years, with no purpose, mind you, to then claiming the thorns might also SERVE a purpose, in latching onto animal fur, for seed propagation, etc. etc. They love to have it both ways, in order to prevent their reasoning from becoming exposed as idiots – logic. Sorry, but you evos make this lame attempt on a daily basis. Let us therefore, once again, expose their nonsensical science – fiction.

    Dom says ” the thorns are a first line of defense. Animals don’t know the seeds are poisonous, hence the menacing appearance of thorns as a warning, blah, blah, blah.” You missed the point entirely. That’s not even the argument. The original discussion was this : How does the PLANT know its seeds are lethal to being with ? Forget the animals looming about. That comes later. The relevant question is WHY ! Why do the thorns even exist in the first place ? The plant cannot have established this defense mechanism for itself, over millions of years, by random chance. It can’t. It’s a PLANT. It has no brain, no subjective thought process, no deductive reasoning ability. It does not KNOW of the toxic nature of its seed content. Dom then goes on to rant about how the thorns ” could be ” beneficial by latching onto an animal, etc. Wrong again Dom. The seed pod of the Datura stramonium is secured to the stem quite well. It is extremely difficult to remove. Therefore your seed propagation argument is thereby reduced to yet another example of mindless dribble.

    Dom then spews the tired, worn out excuse of how the ” seeds don’t have to have been given life by a Creator, it’s just a simple case of water and the seeds and a chemical reaction and then SHAZAM, the seed is revitalized.” Strike three, Dom ! How did the SEED come into existence in the first place, with its entire genetic code intact, containing all the specific details, on how the plant is to grow, to mature, to engage in photosynthesis, and then develop a way of reproduction for the next generation ? This cannot have all come about by simple, genetic mutations, occurring over time. No amount of time allows for this complex, structured plant species to exist, WITHOUT there being an original, Intelligent Designer.

    Finally, Dom commits the ultimate act of self- inflicted, mental coup de grace. Dom says ” what is so structured about a venus flytrap ? ” Well, how about first exposing that minor, little inconvenience, you dismiss as a ” moving mechanism ” which allows it to catch & then digest bugs ? The Dionaea muscipula is one of my favorite examples of Intelligent Design. The complex construction of that simple moving mechanism, is still debated by the scientific community to this day. Back in 2005, it was suggested by evos inbreds, that the mystery had been solved. Wrong. A collection of moronic fools simply restated the detailed, step by step process. They tried to claim how the elastic pressure is easily created on the surface of the leaves, etc. etc. And yet, they never solved anything. Their own report summary states ” ….. however, the exact mechanism the flytrap uses to change the pressure within the leaves, remains unknown.” Really ? SO, we have not solved the riddle after all, have we ! Exactly. We still do not know HOW it works. It CANNOT have developed all of the complex mechanisms for itself, simply over time. It’s a PLANT. It has no brain, no central nervous system, no muscles, no tendons, no ligaments, nothing that can be readily understood by mankind.

    Like thorns in nature, the complexity of the Venus Flytrap denotes and reveals the work of an Intelligent Designer. This Creator is beyond our total human understanding. Thus the validity & need for scientific research itself. The constant and collective quest, to discover and explore and define, how all species, both plant and animal, exist throughout our vast universe. Once again, Intelligent Design has thus been validated.

    Comment by Joseph Alden — September 11, 2008 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Flupempoone — October 10, 2009 @ 6:34 pm | Reply

  49. The Scientific Method is too lengthy and full of too many facts and numbers, so it doesn’t make sense.

    Rather than probing and learning about things, it’s much easier that God just did it all with his magic golf club.Golf appeal to me.

    Comment by Ron Jacob — April 1, 2011 @ 4:46 am | Reply

  50. DO NOT MISS MY SUMMARY AT THE END. IN FACT YOU CAN SKIP THIS.

    All of use here know this debate is not about the purpose of thorns =). But smart people seem to like to avoid the obvious. You know, sometimes I wonder… Why do the most intelligent people on planet earth spend their meaningless lives studying a meaningless world and involving themselves in meaningless arguments. I know the answer but, I don’t think you guys should waste the little time you have with USELESS and COMPLETELY UNIMPORTANT debates. I think you should all focus first on studying immortality. (I promise 100 years later you’ll see what I mean) If science cannot bring immortality, I see no reason to study this world. For the most advanced science will at best prolong the inevitable. *sigh* You all are really smart. But somewhere deep down, I know we are all fools.

    Thought 1:
    [For those thinking we need to study to improve our world and life expectancy and comfort etc etc, the world doesn’t need you.The world WILL take care of itself, isn’t that what evolution suggest? ]

    Thought 2:
    Anyways finally the earth doesn’t care whether you believe it was created through evolution or by some god….

    Note: Getting closer to the point of this discussion are we?

    Thought 3:
    OK I change my mind not finally, lets continue… I am embarassed that “billions of years” later, humans have gained enough intelligence to debate over such trivial matters… Seriously…
    Those who are truly intelligent will see what I mean. The rest will look for some retort, or pun or scientific explanation or breakdown on what I’m really saying.

    Note to self:
    I just realised how funny this world is. Half the world changes money and dies with it at their disposal. The other half chases intelligence and dies with it in their heads or on pieces of paper or signed documents. Then the other half (yes comment here) chases religion and dies with it in their hearts………… HMM What should I chase.

    A quick laugh at my own ignorance:
    How did I end up here? Right I was looking for the purpose of thorns and couldn’t find it in Enyd Blyton. Hmmm thorns are a defence system… hmm interesting, I guess i knew that already, but i just don’t buy it, at least not for all plants. *sigh* I would spend time researching it only if I was IMMORTAL! You know what I mean? Life is too short.

    Though 4:
    I must admit though, I find it strange that we can breathe, feel and think… Don’t you? You know, as easily as we exist we could not have existed. For those who don’t get the big idea, think about a sperm and an egg… You know I also find it strange that we are so smart and thus powerful in comparison to the animals and planets in the universe…

    Though 5:
    Ok everyone, go enjoy life these forums are a waste of life and I came to save you all. Either go study something to prolong your life, or enjoy the feeble moments.

    Summary:
    Finally… this might come as a shock to you all.

    World Theorem 0: There is an absolute truth that cannot be found through scientific means.
    Proof: Science is limited and is an approximation to the truth. It will never be absolute. (Think calculus “limits”).

    World Theorem 1: There is either a God, or I am “God”.
    Apply this theory to yourself. If it’s too hard use the Hint.
    Hint- [If you can logically prove that you are not God then there is a God, otherwise,You are God]

    Point 1) There IS a God. And there’s either no proof to support it or… this world and its inhabitors (us) are proof that God exist. It’s very simple really.

    Proof:
    This is a fundamental of the world code. Implicated by World theorem 0 and 1.

    World Theorem 2: Some things can exist from nothing.
    Corollary: Nothing is something.

    Proof: We are created and designed beings, whether it be by some fancy genetic code of our parents, or backdates… right back to the genetic code of first man and woman (if you believe in that). Or right back up to the world code of the big bang. Either the big bang designed us, whatever you believe, or what really designed us.

    Point 2) Assumptions and Belief and or Faith all have their purposes. Though those 3 are often looked down upon. Everyone knows the ass-u-me joke. (I just assumed that) and I believe it. They are critical. They are most certainly assumptions in certain high level mathematics for those who only believe in science. The important bit is where they are applied/ sensibly applicable.

    World Theorem 3:
    Immortality through science is unattainable.

    Proof:
    Immortality is an absolute truth, see World Theorem 0.

    This law is also etched into the “world code”. Thus science is at its very core useless. But for purposes of humanity, necessary.

    World Theorem 4: Discussions are meaningless unless the point is to save one from meaningless discussions.

    Proof: I made this one up after wasting an hour =). Goodbye.

    Comment by Jester Tal — November 30, 2011 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  51. I’m sure you intelligent people can forgive my typos, like “though instead of thought” and “changes instead of chases” which is actually quite punny I mean.. funny…. right and random thought changes and silly proofs and… right that

    Comment by Jester Tal — November 30, 2011 @ 4:30 pm | Reply

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    Regardless, I’m certainly happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    Comment by Caitlin — May 9, 2013 @ 5:34 am | Reply

  53. It is located in Westchase locality of Houston.
    The charm of stunning chandeliers to enlighten your great party.
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    Comment by hotels — July 17, 2013 @ 6:24 am | Reply

  54. No mention of seed dispersal mechanisms? I can imagine that ripe fruit getting stuck in the fur of a Bison or something similar…Not all thorns are for defense. Take Xanthium strumarium as an example.

    Comment by Marnus — August 19, 2014 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  55. Marnus, seed dispersal mechanisms are totally bogus. It implies the plant somehow KNOWS it must spread its seeds far and wide. Total, science fiction bullshit, which is typical from evos-inbreds.

    Easy to disprove as well. Take my own jimson weed details above, not the lies and distortions of Pim van Meurs.
    Several of your fellow fools commented how the jimson weed must have developed thorns on a seed pod to then get caught in animal fur & thus spread the seeds, blah, blah, blah. Totally impossible.
    The seed pod is attached to the stalk of the plant in a very rigid fashion. It does NOT come off easily.
    So much for the insane seed dispersal theory often floated by the Chuck Darwin groupies.
    This article was originally published way back in 2008. Here it is, SIX YEARS LATER, and Pim van Meurs has still failed miserably, to answer ANY of my responses above. He continues to prove my point, as always. There is an Intelligent Designer, responsible for every creation that exists in the universe.

    Comment by Joseph T. Alden — October 29, 2014 @ 11:31 pm | Reply


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